Question Submitted: How long does one wait? Every month brings disappointment. Then the thought, maybe next month will be the one. How do you decide to take the plunge and go see your doctor? I have three children. I am ashamed to be asking. I feel like I shouldn’t be so disappointed, but yet, it is like someone is missing from our family. My youngest is over 3 and a half. I saw my doctor a year ago and she thought I was under a lot of stress from moving and hadn’t been consistently “trying” long enough. They did basic blood work and some ultrasounds. Nothing was wrong. She mentioned the word endometriosis, but said the only way to know would be invasive procedure. But, now, I’ve given it that year of documented trying and expensive ovulation and pregnancy tests. I know I ought to be content. But, who is there to share my sorrow with? It is indescribable and I feel selfish and ungrateful. I have not miscarried. I am not barren. I love my kids. I ought to be thankful, and I am…but not enough. I cringe when people now talk to me assuming that I am “done” with having children, as if it is a decision I made. To some in the world they think it is good. Others look at me with their 5 or 6 children and continuous talk about having a quiverfull, and think that I must be “worldly.” I am guilty of having said I “want as many as the Lord gives me,” and yet it is not true. Why is it so hard to accept if I have no more? And when is it not wrong to seek medical help? The doctor said to come back after 6 months, but I haven’t been able to do it yet. I keep hoping maybe next month. Trust the Lord.
My dear sister in Christ, it is so hard to accept the number of children you have now, because children are a blessing from God; and whenever we are not given that blessing, we see all too clearly the Sin which leaves the world and our wombs broken. We know that God created the one-flesh union in marriage to be fruitful, and it hurts and is terrifying whenever our marriage ceases to bear such blessed fruit.
As if our own pain and fear are not enough, Satan and his minions taunt and tease our consciences, trying to make us believe our childlessness is God’s punishment for that Sin. They want nothing more than for us to doubt God’s goodness and mercy toward sinners, toward us. They want us to believe that Christ’s sacrifice was not enough for us, that our childlessness is a needed penance for full atonement. They want us to believe in our own works for salvation, not in the all-saving work of Christ on the cross.
Lord, have mercy and deliver us from doubt and unbelief!
Here is the truth found in God’s Word: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:1, 22-24 [ESV]) We know with assurance that the fruit of our womb is no reflection of our relationship with God in Christ Jesus. It is simply a manifestation of the world’s brokenness as it waits for the Resurrection Day.
You ask me how to decide to take the plunge and go see a doctor? Talk to your husband, your pastor, your trusted loved ones and ask yourself this question: Why do you want to see a doctor? Do you seek relief from an ailment which causes your health to suffer? Do you seek an answer to the puzzle that is your fertility? Do you desire closure after months, even years, of trying to get pregnant? I believe these are all healthy motivations for seeking medical attention, because they simply seek a conclusion and physical relief. These motivations do not require a certain outcome of God, confusing the line between Creator and creation. These motivations keep you in a position to receive gifts from God, whatever those gifts may be.
Remember that it is not wrong to seek medical help for infertility. Healing medicine is part of the daily bread God provides for us, and it is good and right to try to make the body whole. We are free in Christ to undergo diagnostic tests, receive treatments, have surgeries, take medications, and receive help from a doctor for the healing purposes of our flesh. We just need to remember that our freedom in Christ is intended by God to serve our neighbor, not ourselves, so be discerning. There are some forms of infertility medicine that cease to be healing medicine because they potentially hurt or harm our neighbor (our husband and the very children we want to conceive) and thereby break the Fifth Commandment of our Lord. Also, guard yourself against the temptation to serve your own desire for a child when it means trusting the words of your doctor over the Word of God. We break the First Commandment of our Lord when we dethrone Him, the True Creator, in our hearts and replace Him with a make-shift god constructed of our own wishes and desires.
My personal advice? You’ve been waiting a long time, and your heart is aching with the unknown. Go. See your doctor. Find out what you in good conscience can, and be at peace, trusting that God is working everything for your good. And know that you are not alone in the body of Christ, sister.
Now, a quick word to that body of Christ:
We are so cruel to each other in the church. The woman with too many children is judged by others to be an unconscionable rabbit, the woman with too few children gets labeled a personification of the Enlightenment, and the woman with no children is hailed as a contracepting Machiavel.
No doubt, there are women in all three of these categories whose number of children is self-determined by an obedience to some damning, worldly Law, but let’s be good Lutherans and put the best construction on everything. Let’s look at the number of children a woman has been given and rejoice at God’s goodness to her in both His blessing and His withholding. Let’s not judge each other behind hands in whispered gossip but, instead, encourage each other openly by proclaiming the truth in love: God in His wisdom and mercy both gives and doesn’t give the gift of children. Praise be to God!